Five Pillars Lecture Series: Civics - March 2018

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March 12, 2018
To facilitate a conversation about civic engagement, the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce invited Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald, Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn and Tristeza Ordex-Ramirez, Field Representative for Congressman Marc Veasey, to discuss the impact of SB4 on Fort Worth and Tarrant County. This lecture series was sponsored by JP Morgan Chase and was moderated by Brooke Goggans, Managing Member of Mosaic Strategy Partners. The event chair was Carolann Morris.

Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald said while the Fort Worth Police Department has had no SB4 related stops, the law has definitely created communication problems and may cause issues with gaining intelligence. “We have relationships and conversations with community members that say the fear is there. We are doing our best to educate the community that the police department is not there to break up families. We abide by the law and look at it very critically,” said Fitzgerald. He asked for the community’s help in pushing out the message.
Sheriff Bill Waybourn discussed 287g and how it is being implemented in Tarrant County. He said 287g deals with criminals in jail with a Class B misdemeanor or above and that Tarrant County is not out enforcing immigration laws in the streets or doing raids. “Since September 1, it has been business as usual. Nothing has really changed. We’re going after the same bad guy that we were on August 31, 2017 (before the law went into effect).” Waybourn also called for a comprehensive immigration policy.
Field Representative Tristeza Ordex-Ramirez expressed concerns about the new law being very vague and left open to interpretation. She also mentioned that there is the fear out in the community and how that fear has affected every governmental agency. “People are not reporting things because they do not want to be caught up with immigration,” said Ordex-Ramirez. “We spend a lot of time in the community. We reassure them of their rights and who to talk to at the local level. We’re going to continue to have these discussions.”

Moderator Brooke Goggans thanked the panel for their participation and encouraged attendees to continue the conversation. “This is just the beginning of a very long conversation and one that, even when it's uncomfortable, we have to continue to talk and make sure that we're being respectful and hearing each other and trying to make real change,” said Goggans.

As the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, it is our job to inform, engage and inspire our community on the issues affecting businesses as we work toward building a vibrant economic environment for Fort Worth. The FWHCC has previously expressed its opposition to SB4.

"My job is to take the issues and programs affecting our community and help communicate them to our community," said John Hernandez, President of the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “Through events such as our Five Pillars Lecture Series, the FWHCC hopes to inform the community on the issues and inspire them to take action, whether it be contacting their elected official or going out to vote.”

The Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's Five Pillar Lecture Series addresses each of the areas that we believe are the cornerstones of a productive, thriving business environment: civic engagement, economic activity, a thriving education system, quality business development, and diversity in leadership.